Department of Health

Recommendation 42

A new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act

What the Royal Commission said

This recommendation is to replace the current Mental Health Act 2014 with a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act (new Act), by no later than mid-2022.

The new Act will provide the legal foundations for the redesigned mental health and wellbeing system.

The new Act will promote good mental health and wellbeing for Victorians. It will support the delivery of high-quality services and promote and protect human rights.

What are the opportunities?

The Royal Commission outlined the need to reset and rebalance mental health legislation. Some of the challenges with the current legislation include:

  • aligning the new Act with other relevant laws and human rights frameworks
  • unclear accountability within the mental health system
  • a narrow focus for current legislation
  • a range of factors that hampered implementation including leadership, culture, and resourcing.

What are we doing?

The Victorian government introduced legislation to parliament in June 2022 to establish a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act.

Among other reforms the legislation contains new rights-based objectives and principles that will drive the highest possible standard of mental health and wellbeing for Victorians.

The Bill supports the establishment of new roles and entities recommended by the Royal Commission. This includes a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards, a new Chief Officer for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Victoria.

The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act commences approximately mid-2023. This ensures time to communicate the changes in the new Act to the sector.  

There will be education and support for consumers, families, carers and supporters to understand their rights under the new legislation. Training will also be provided for the mental health and wellbeing sector on the requirements of the new legislation.

We will continue to work with consumers, families, carers and supporters, workers and providers to be ready for the new Act.

Further updates are available on this reform activity update page.

Public consultation

The Department of Health engaged with people with lived experience, the sector and community to help inform the development of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill. Information about the engagement process is available on the Engage Victoria website

Independent Review 

During the engagement process we heard that more time was needed to get key elements of the Bill right. This means an Independent Review of compulsory treatment criteria and alignment of decision-making laws will start in 2022, as soon as parliament has passed the new Act. 

The work of the Independent Review will be guided by Terms of Reference developed by consumers, families, carers, supporters, workers and service providers. 

This is the start of the legislative reform process. There will be further legislation to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review, followed by a review of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act after the first 5 years of operation.

Expert Advisory Group

A 10-member Expert Advisory Group was established in March 2021. Advisory Group members are:

  • Mr Michael Gorton AM (Chair), Principal, Russell Kennedy Lawyers and Board /Chair, Alfred Health
  • Dr Anoop Lalitha, Director of Clinical Services, Ballarat Health Service
  • Dr Chris Maylea, Deputy Chair, Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council Committee of Management
  • John Foley, Board member, Tandem Carers
  • Kristen Hilton, former Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner
  • Laura Collister, CEO, Wellways
  • Professor Lisa Brophy, La Trobe University, community member, Mental Health Tribunal
  • Dr Margaret Grigg, CEO, Forensicare
  • Nerita Waight, CEO, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
  • Sandra Keppich-Arnold, Director of Mental Health and AOD Operations, Alfred Health

This group has supported the development of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill. Members bring diverse and significant expertise in many areas. This includes lived experience, human rights, legal and non-legal advocacy, health law, health service governance and clinical mental health and community support service delivery.

Reviewed 21 June 2022

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